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Archive for the ‘Butterflies etc.’ Category

For about a week now peacock butterfly caterpillars have been out and about in the nettle patch to the west of the chapel. A couple of large skipper butterflies have been basking in the same nettle patch this week (again today) and a red admiral has now joined in. A small tortoiseshell has added her eggs to the tops of some nettles this morning, this species seems to be doing a lot better this year. A white letter hairstreak butterfly, newly emerged, climbed down through the grass a the front of the nettles to drink form the moisture she needed near the more shaded roots. This patch is definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Ochlodes venata, Large skipper butterfly 20.6.2014

 

Ochlodes venata, Large skipper butterfly 20.6.2014

 

Aglais urticae, Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly, egg laying on nettles 26.6.2014

 

Aglais urticae, Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly, egg laying on nettles 26.6.2014

 

Satyrium w-album, White-letter Hairstreak Butterfly, 26.6.2014, climbing down into the damper grass to drink.

 

Vanessa atalanta, Red Admiral Butterfly, 26.6.2014

 

Inachis io, Peacock Butterfly, caterpillars on nettle, 20.6.2014

Butterflies and moths in Abney has more photos.

 

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A large, mainly black and white butterfly was around the chapel on Thursday,

The wing span was wider any British species I know of, and it had a slightly slower wingbeat than I am used to seeing. It was a male Hypolimnas misippus or Mimic Butterfly and I’m grateful to Tony Butler for his photograph.  The females have a red/orange area in their wings, with the black and white patches on the outer edges. They are native to much of Africa, Asia and Australia, but not the UK. They are reared in butterfly houses as an interesting exotic, and I guess this one escaped.

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With bad news about butterfly numbers (the numbers of White Letter Hairstreak are down this year –  probably due to the prolonged cold spring), it is good to have a new butterfly in Abney. Tony tells me that he has seen one before, but it is unusual and not one I have seen. It was happily feasting on the privet towards the chapel. Link to Butterflies and Moths in Abney.

Ringlet Butterfly, Aphantopus hyperantus, 18.7.2013 (1)

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I have been going into Abney for a very long time now and this is the first time I have seen this butterfly. Talking to Tony (local expert) there is a thriving community of White-letter Hairstreaks in Abney and they are just emerging. The books say they are on the wing in July and August, although they have been emerging a bit on the early side of this on other relatively local areas this year.

The caterpillars live on elms, whych elms and common elms, and there are some elms in Abney. There used to be more, but Dutch Elm disease has caused the downfall of most mature elms. Most of the remaining trees are mainly suckers that have regenerated from the roots and they don’t really get to a large enough size to interest the butterfly. The few larger trees that are remaining are therefore very important.

Today a lone individual came down from the top of an elm to feed on privet and bramble flowers, and to spend time in the debris at the path edge looking for salts. They also feed on honeydew produced by aphids, which is a solution containing sugars etc. This is vital as a source of water in Abney, as there is no open water to drink from.

Link to photos of Abney for July 2011

 

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